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BPO: Managing Services & Association eLearning
Associations love their members. Members love professional development opportunities. So, associations strive to provide those opportunities to their members. Sounds like a match made in heaven!
However, many associations are starting to recognize that while members are central to their functions, the deployment of professional development is not an association’s core business. This is particularly true for learning provided over the Internet. As such, associations are beginning to look outside their own organization for help with service management, or outsourcing the business process (BPO).
Companies such as Accenture, GP Strategies and Web Courseworks offer external consulting and implementation solutions to businesses with needs ranging from IT services, training, and recruitment. These companies help other organizations maximize processes in terms of efficiency and quality.
How does that work for associations?
Essentially, an association identifies a need that it lacks the expertise to fulfill in various ways. Let’s say they need to deliver eLearning to thousands of members. So, the association hires experts to provide the services to fill that need. The key change is that associations are looking to hire external services for managing these processes rather than relying completely on internal resources.
This is BPO at work. It allows companies and associations to “let go” of frustrating issues and organizational headaches and instead focus on more important matters such as marketing, building your brand, and growing revenue.
What service management needs might an association “outsource” for eLearning?
As noted previously, it is not the central function of an association to deliver online professional development. This is, instead, one of many services they provide to their members. Many processes go into providing that service, processes that should not cause an association’s time or resources to spiral out of control. Which processes of eLearning, therefore, can and should be handed off to the experts to worry about?
The education side of professional development has always been relatively easy for associations to tackle. However, due to the explosion of eLearning in the past 15 years, education staff members need to have new areas of expertise, particularly in IT-related processes.
SCORM, Flash, HTML5, 508 compliance, etc… The rapid pace of change and innovation for eLearning is making the lack of synergy between education expertise and IT expertise more apparent. This is problematic for associations hoping to successfully and effectively provide quality online learning for their members while minimizing hiring costs and interdepartmental issues.
More associations will consider utilizing BPO to maximize their eLearning and IT processes in a variety of ways. Don’t think about it as giving up cold turkey on an entire eLearning, training, or support department. At its extreme, yes, an association could go that route. Most of the time, however, it would be more likely that management will strike a balance upon determining which functions and responsibilities should remain more internal and to what degree others can be transferred to or shared with highly capable external teams.
An association with eLearning needs, for example, can hire an external company to administer a variety of functions necessary to create, host, deliver, and/or assess the eLearning and the systems that enable those processes. For instance, the external company takes over administration of the association’s learning management system. Compare this to the association itself spending months and money to find a qualified team who satisfy both the educational understanding and IT expertise needed for the job. The BPO company would still work with the association to ensure their needs for the system are met, and the association focuses on more important aspects like their brand and relationship with members. This is what we like to call a win-win situation!
Ranging from simple to more complex, these needs may include:
- Hosting software (SAAS)
- LMS administration
- Support/help desk
- Content management
- Project management
- Subject matter expertise
- Live training workshops
What makes an association an ideal candidate for using BPO with eLearning?
In general, associations looking to minimize expenses and maximize revenue would benefit from considering this method of managing their services. However, the decision also depends on the capabilities of any departments involved, as well as the availability of resources to be able to make that success happen.
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Managing Introverts: How to Foster and Sustain Innovation From the “Quiet” Ones
Guest blog written by Meri Tunison
In a post last September, the blog team explored the ideas of Paul Glen in his book Leading Geeks. He proposed advantages and tips to learning how to work with programmers. Of course, this is a particularly important group of people within eLearning companies—thus our natural interest in his ideas!
At the recent ASAE conference (American Society of Association Executives), traditional management strategies and values were yet again challenged by a passionate author. This time, Susan Cain invited business managers to consider the findings she details in her New York Times bestseller. Aptly titled Quiet, Cain’s book reveals insights about people who either self-identify or are labeled as introverts. Most importantly, she offers ideas on how to understand and support introverts in our relationships, in our communities, and in our workplaces.
What is “Quiet” about?
In a world that “can’t stop talking,” according to Cain, it is often difficult for introverts to be recognized as contributing—and essential—members of society. It is not in their nature to seek the attention and validation that many extroverts crave as motivation—and this often results in introverts being undervalued unfairly. In Quiet, Cain’s exploration of these qualities and how introverts manifest them is hugely important to understanding how introverts think, relate, and create. She explores similar ideas in a TED talk, accessible on Cain’s website, as well as shared below.
How are eLearning companies connected?
For eLearning companies, the “introvert” label might be most easily (and sometimes inaccurately) applied to quieter and more individualistic roles– a programmer, perhaps. An accountant. An IT developer. A graphic artist.
Many introverts may gravitate towards these roles. However, as Cain proves, introverts can also be found in roles traditionally seen as more favorable to extroverts—high pressure situations on a deadline, speaking and managing large groups of people at once, always on the go-go-go.
The key is providing introverts in your workplace with the right tools to be successful in a variety of situations. Cain interviews real people who identify as introverts and are extremely successful in leadership positions, sales positions, “people positions”, etc. It’s all about finding ways to tap into their potential—that is what makes a person successful.
Recommendations for Managing Introverts
Based on the findings and stories in Quiet, here are five tips to managers on how to successfully tap into the innovation of introverts in a 21st century workplace. Each recommendation includes a brief overview and a specific idea on how to accomplish it.
Here’s a sneak peek:
Pointers for creating successful performance-based learning. It’s 2013: we experience the benefits of having instantaneous information available at our fingertips on a daily basis. An Internet connection opens up possibilities to learn anything, from how to unclog a kitchen drain…